Mental Health Awareness Week – 9-15 May
Mental Health Awareness Week is 9-15 May 2022. The theme for this year is ‘loneliness.’ Mental health Awareness week is an even that is run annually by the Mental Health Foundation, for the last 20 years it has given the UK a chance to focus in on issues around mental health and look at how we as a nation can work towards better mental health.
The Mental Health Foundation has the following to say about this year’s theme of loneliness.
Loneliness is affecting more and more of us in the UK and has had a huge impact on our physical and mental health during the pandemic. Our connection to other people and our community is fundamental to protecting our mental health and we need to find better ways of tackling the epidemic of loneliness. We can all play a part in this.
People can feel lonely for many different reasons and indeed people can be surrounded by friends, family, work colleagues and acquaintances and appear on the surface, to be having a great time, but essentially be very lonely. The Black Dog Institute defines loneliness in the following way.
Loneliness is that negative feeling that arises when our social needs are unmet by the quantity and quality of our current social relationships. As social beings, we rely on safe, secure social surroundings to survive and thrive. When we begin to feel lonely, we experience heightened feelings of vulnerability, which can take a toll on both our bodies and our minds.
It would seem that even though we might know and interact with lots of people if the quality of those interactions doesn’t meet our needs, we may feel loneliness. Indeed, since COVID many more of us may be experiencing loneliness in our daily lives as our social interactions and ways of interacting have dramatically changed.
Loneliness can have a dramatic impact on our mental health so, what can you do this Mental Health Awareness Week to combat your own loneliness or reach out to others? Below are ideas for you to consider.
Responding to your own loneliness
- Be Proactive & Get Active – go for walks in your local area, go to the gym, join an exercise group, join a group that maintains a local woodland or park, volunteer for a National Trust or English Heritage property in the garden. Exercise is a great antidepressant and even if you are just walking in your local park you are bound to come across someone. A friend of mine has built up a number of people who she speaks to on a regular basis through speaking about the dog they are walking. Take a look at our blog Exercise and Mental Health Developing a Practice
- Revisit your current relationships – Look at the people in your life now, think about your relationship with them. Do you reach out to them? Do you suggest doing things together? Do you like the people in your life? When was the last time you did something fun with someone? If you feel able consider strengthening your current relationships or renewing old relationships and if this isn’t possible think about how you can make new friendships, volunteer somewhere, join a group, or get into a new craft, it could be something you do online to begin with before moving it into real life.
- Visit a therapist – sometimes the roots of loneliness can be deep and difficult, if you feel that you are significantly struggling with feelings of loneliness speaking to a professional might be able to help you examine what is happening for you and to find a way forward. See below for how you can contact Paul to make an appointment.
Supporting Mental Health Awareness Week
One of the best ways that you can support Mental Health Awareness Week is to raise awareness, If you are able to have open conversations about mental health and loneliness you will encourage others to do so. Be proactive and check in with those around you, contact the friend you haven’t heard from in a while whether it be to send them a meme and ask how they are, send a text, email or letter, or pick up the phone to have a conversation. If you can though, don’t stop at just doing it this week, take the practice forward so that on a regular basis you are reaching out to people virtually and in real life.
The Mental Health Foundation Website along with many other Mental Health Websites have resources and ideas that you can use to help you tackle your feelings of loneliness or engage with others that may be experiencing loneliness. Other useful websites include:
- Red Cross – get help with loneliness
- The Marmalade Trust – a website with a great deal of resources around loneliness
If you are struggling with any of the issues in this article you might want to talk to a professional. Paul offers each client the opportunity to speak with him first in an initial phone call to ensure that he is the right person for you to work with on the difficulties you are experiencing and to answer any questions that you have. Paul is currently only offering support online or on the telephone. Please call him on 07843 813 537 or fill in the form on the Contact Page, if he doesn’t answer he is probably in a session, please leave me a message and he will call you back as soon as he can.